The Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto Analysis

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The Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto was written for western style orchestra and features a solo violin played using some Chinese techniques. This piece retains the Chinese flavor but however to some extent. The reason why I have chosen this question and this piece is because as a violinist, I have the interest in how the violin in The Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto is a western instrument, but however it is still able to capture some of the Chinese style.

In this essay, I will be comparing the recording of the original composition of The Butterfly Lovers with Violin solo and the Yue Opera. This piece portrays the famous Chinese folktale ‘Liang-Zhu’ (The Butterfly Lovers). Although this is a one-movement programmatic concerto, it has three sections which correspond to the three phases in the Chinese folktale (The Butterfly Lovers) – Meeting and love, Opposition to an arranged marriage and transformation into butteflies.

The methodology of investigation is as follows: I will be first analyzing this piece and how the
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The Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto written by He Zhanhao and Chen Gang definitely does retain some of the Chinese flavor but however to some extent. From the use of instrument (violin) itself, causes it to lose some of the Chinese flavor when being compared to the Erhu and Chinese orchestra version as the authentic folk instrument (Erhu) has distinct Chinese flavor. Though the violin solo uses the Erhu’s performance techniques, it does help to make it sound closer to Erhu, but however it is still not able to capture the emotion that the Erhu gives. In conclusion, my stand is that The Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto is able to capture the Chinese origin flavor but there is limitations to it as it cannot achieve the similar effects/sounds as the Erhu and Chinese orchestra

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